Sunday, June 7, 2009

'Yak attack on the Mighty Muskegon River

Saturday, I was able to take a float trip with some buddies down the Muskegon River, located in West Central Michigan. We launched at the Croton Dam and floated 14 miles into the town of Newago. The weather was overcast and temperatures topped out in the mid sixties. We had a full moon within the previous few days, so the fishing outlook was good. The water was very clear and moving along at a pretty good clip, 2010 cfm discharge at Croton Dam.

Getting Ready to Launch

Mike with his Perception Caster 12.5

Derek with his Wilderness Systems Pungo 140

Jeff with his Ocean Kayak Scrambler

Daryn with his Creek Company Pontoon getting in some quick casts

Myself with my Mainstream Kingfish and lucky fishing hat

The Muskegon River holds a variety of gamefish including Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Muskie. Also, the Michigan DNR stocks this stretch of the river with Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout. The habitat in this area is pretty typical for most river, a series of deeper pools and shallow riffles. There are tons of rocks throughout the entire stretch, with many large boulders. While tying on a new lure, I wasn't paying attention downstream and slammed sideways into on of the Muskegon's massive boulders. The durability and stability of my kayak was tested and certified on this particular collision. Mike and Daryn were having good luck throwing small No. 1 & 2 spinners as well as jerk baits such as the Rapala X-rap. The hot color seemed to be a rainbow trout pattern as Daryn and Mike cleaned up using these. Most of the fish caught were rainbow trout with the occasional brook and brown trout thrown in the mix. Daryn also landed a couple nice smallmouth bass on his Hot Steel X-Rap, his go to lure. Mike had the most success throwing out a small rainbow trout spinner.

My lucky fishing hat didn't seem to help out my cause, as I officially got skunked. Even Derek, who wasn't fishing, managed to catch something.....a trophy sized minnow in his sandal. I employed various tactics such as throwing an X-Rap and small spinners. The fish must have heard I was on the river and decided to steer clear of the Kingfish. No matter what I tried, I was having no luck at all. Even Derek, who wasn't fishing, caught a minnow that swam into his sandal. To make matters worse, I had several trout surface or jump within feet of my kayak. They were definitely taunting me. Derek had found a small Panther Martin along the bank, and it was a brown trout colored pattern. Thinking it was an omen, I decided to tie it on and give it a whirl. During a rest stop along the river, Derek even found a Hellgrammite crawling around in his kayak. These little critters are like candy to trout, so I put a hook and split shot on to drift this magical live bait. Unfortunately, neither of these omens panned out for me. Looking back, I believe the problem was the line I was using. I have some Fireline Crystal that worked well for me last season, however the Muskegon is much clearer water than what I normally fish. My line looked like white sewing thread in the water and probably made the leery trout uneasy. I should have tied on a mono leader, which would have made my presentation more subtle.

The Results
Daryn's Nice 16" Smallmouth
Daryn's Dandy 16" Rainbow

Mike's Eater 11" Rainbow

Numerous keeper Rainbows in the 10-11" range were released by Mike and Daryn although some of Daryn's were unverified

Mike managed to catch a couple 9" brookies that were released

A few more pics

Daryn's Float 'Toon
Daryn custom built his seat platform for his fishing rig.
It is a slick outfit, very stable and fisherman friendly.

Heading down the River

Sand Cliffs

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